Torment: Tides of Numenera (2017) final conclusion

So, is Torment: Tides of Numenera a spiritual successor to Planescape: Torment I was hoping it would be and what it is primarily sold as. To that, I think, the answer is no. Not that it is a bad game by any means, but what it boils down to is this: as a whole, it just doesn't manage to be as grabbing experience as the game that inspired it is.

On my first take, I already was in a conclusion, that Torment: Tides of Numenera is a good game. I've now played it through the first time and that hasn't changed. It isn't as strong as original Planescape: Torment was, but as a whole, it's a good game with a plot that carries to the end. All the way through it feels like a game, that is quite true to itself, letting you choose if to fight or not, how to proceed with quests and how to behave with people. But again, it's not as strong of a story or a game as original PT was.

Planescape: Torment revolves around a question, a philosophical musing, "What can change the nature of a man?". It's a question that is always present during the massive narrative of it. Torment: Tides of Numenera has a question of its own, "What does one life matter?". Many times it was easy to forget, that there was a question there, as it really seemed to me, that the question became more prevalent only during the last half of the game. PT was, to the end, all about the question and how'd you go about trying to answer it. Despite its clunky RPG mechanics, it delivers a punch, which is left lingering to your thoughts, what, indeed, can change the nature of a man. There's official answer of course, but then there's all the other musing of it, a string of thoughts and ideas and concepts. What can change the nature of a man?

And from that question we come to an another question, what does one life matter? It is, as a question, just a broad. At the same time, as I stated, it doesn't really feel as attached to the story. It feels like something that was tacked on it in order to have a big question. And yet the game itself feels oddly absent of asking that question. Only at the end, it starts to feel like a thing.

A lot of this has to do with how the nature of the Changing God and the Sorrow are revealed. Both of them are often talked about, but neither really manages to feel like a real weight upon the story. They both are present but don't really feel that important, which is a problem considering they are the keys to the mystery of you, the Last Castoff, the latest discarded vessel of the Changing God. In many ways, TToN is more interested in giving exploitation about the world itself. Many of the interesting little tidbits feel like detached stories, some extremely well written, some not so. And for me that was what carried the game, as many times I really forgot about the predicament of my own character, when I was busy exploring the world itself, meeting the people living there. It's always a bad sign when the main plot is shadowed by the other narratives.

The main plot itself is also anticlimactic. The ending itself doesn't really feel very rewarding. You are given a choice of how the game ends. The Sorrow and the Last Castoff have their final standoff and you can choose how you answer to the question of TToN: what does one life matter. And as far endings go, it's not a very satisfying conclusion, as it doesn't really feel that organic ending.

Another disappointing aspect of TToN are the companion characters, who feel more or less bland. The only real standout character is the little girl, Rhin. She feels like a character that was really thought out and her character arch to the end feels the most rewarding one, even more, rewarding than the arch of the main character. She starts out as someone you feel a need to protect, but if you solve her story, she will become something much more. In many ways, I think the TToN could have felt much more satisfying if the story itself would have revolved around her and the all the fuzz about the Changing God and the Sorrow would have been something on the side.

Overall the companion roster is pretty dull. PT was filled with non-human companions: a floating skull, a succubus, Modron, a thievling and so on. In TToN, a world filled with mutants and alien beings, all the companions are human. It doesn't really matter where you meet them or from where you find them, they're all humans with, in the end, pretty mundane problems. As I said, only one who really stands out among them is Rhin, as her problems and her situation come out as direr than for anyone else.

There's also combat in the game. As such, I'd say the combat system works reasonably well. It's turn based system, which allows you to use combat and non-combat skills alike. At times you can speak to your enemies, try to fool them to run or just try to taunt them. I managed to get through the game with only a handful of combat, I think I fought to completion around 5 times or so. I probably could have shed a couple of combats off from that, but overall I'd say inXile did a good job on this front, in allowing the player options to slither away from combat and in how the combat situations offer multiple means of disposing of the threat.

I don't think Torment: Tides of Numenera fully achieved the goal it was trying to achieve. A lot of this has to do with the taunting shadow of Planescape: Torment, which still is a lonely king on its mountain. While TToN isn't a failure of a game, it still isn't the crown prince to take the place of the old king. I'm glad that it exists though, as TToN, just like PT, is a game I will gladly return to at some point. And that by itself is pretty rare.

You can get Torment: Tides of Numenera from Steam or GOG. Planescape Torment is available through GOG.